Horse Racing: Graeme Johnston’s Friday fancies from Royal Ascot


RACING expert Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bets from the fourth day of Royal Ascot.

15:40 Royal Ascot | Commonwealth Cup | ITV

The Commonwealth Cup is still in its infancy compared to most races but it's already established itself as a fixture of the Royal meeting.

Last year the winner went on to beat her elders and I expect this year to be no different. Three hugely exciting sprinters line up and we could be about to see a new force emerge in the sprint division.

Of the big three in the market, Blue Point (6/1 Ladbrokes) is the most exposed but he has solid form to his name. A busy juvenile he won the Gimcrack and picked up places in three other Group races, including the Middle Park, and returned with a promising win over course and distance.

He looked fit that day so may struggle to confirm form with Harry Angel and I think he is up against it here.

Now this leaves two and what a two they are. I think Harry Angel (10/3 Bet365) is a superstar and in an ordinary renewal, he would most likely be odds-on.

Last time he raced keenly and never fully settled but still managed to break the course record at Haydock. We are talking about a machine and the fact I'm not selling my possessions to back him at odds on offer tells you he has run into one here.

Caravaggio (1/1 SkyBet) was an exceptional juvenile and his win in the Coventry Stakes last year was incredible. Drawn on the wrong side, he destroyed his rivals in his group and somehow managed to then effectively join a second race and brush them aside too.

He wasn't tested as a two year-old before injury seen his season end prematurely. You always worry when they return from a break but he did so with a stylish win and I think he may have the edge over Harry here.

I've backed the straight-forecast at 9/2 (Paddy Power) as I think they may end up the top two sprinters around this year.

16:20 Royal Ascot | Coronation Stakes | ITV

The Coronation Stakes for three year-old fillies over a mile, is usually fiercely competitive and often one of the best races of the week. But this has something of a flat feel to it.

We have a dual Guineas winner turning up but she looks short of real opposition, however the performance of Churchill earlier in the week makes you wary of backing her at odds-on.

Winter (8/15 Betfair) was unknown to most until the spring when she ran a promising race in a Guineas trial and has since taken the Irish and English versions. She looks better than these, but this is her fourth start in nine weeks and she may feel the effects of this.

If this race was in a few weeks time I'd be a lot happier to back her, but at odds-on I'm looking for an each-way alternative.

Precieuse (12/1 Paddy Power) stepped up two furlongs last time and was a surprise winner of the French Guineas. The extra distance brought out massive improvement but the worry for me is the form seems a little below that of the English and Irish versions. She also encounters vastly different ground and I don't expect France's good week to continue here.

Dabyah (7/1 888) has won three from four so far and I think she is more of a rival to Winter than the betting suggests. Her sole defeat came in a French Group 1 and that race was ran in a very fast time that she was responsible for.

Her win in the Fred Darling was a good return and in a race run round a bend, I think her front-running style could be seen to great effect. I've backed her each-way and will back her in the market without Winter too.

17:35 Royal Ascot | Duke of Edinburgh Stakes | ITV

The Duke of Edinburgh is a handicap over a mile-and-a-half with 20 runners lining up and there isn't a great deal between a lot of them. Plenty of value is available and with some generous each-way terms available it looks a race for low stakes each-way bets.

Once again I'm going to split my stake in two as I'm not overly confident on anything but there are two at prices I think may be involved late on.

The first one is Master Carpenter (28/1 Ladbrokes) who after looking like he was starting to decline, bounced back in a big way at York last time. That was on soft ground and he's stepping up in distance, but I think he is worth trying at this trip.

In his prime he was rated higher than these and despite having top weight he still could be well in. It's a risk backing one with questions over trip and ground, but at huge odds it's a calculated one.

Star Storm (18/1 Paddy Power) has kept better company than this throughout most of his career and seems to like the track. A win and a second from three visits with the other time being in a higher grade and he was outclassed.

Last time out he looked like winning before a very progressive rival passed him late on and I think he will be fitter here. His trainer does well at this meeting and he looks overpriced, to me.

Best Bets

15:40 Royal Ascot – Caravaggio (1/1 SkyBet)

15:40 Royal Ascot – Caravaggio – Harry Angel straight forecast (9/2 Paddy Power)

16:20 Royal Ascot – Dabyah (7/1 each-way 888)

16:20 Royal Ascot – Dabyah to win ‘Without Winter’ (7/4 Paddy Power)

17:35 Royal Ascot – Master Carpenter (28/1 each-way Ladbrokes)

17:35 Royal Ascot – Star Storm (18/1 each-way Paddy Power)

About Author

I grew up watching Hearts games with my dad and playing football at every opportunity so betting on it was the logical next step! Football coupons became a Saturday ritual and it introduced me into the world of horse racing. I started watching it on a regular basis, and after Galileo's Derby win in 2001 I was hooked. I follow both flat and national hunt racing attending the northern meetings when possible.

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